The Ethnic Resource center, located next to the Bay Tree Bookstore, allows students to intern and participate with various ethnic organizations on campus. Photo by Rosario Serna.
The Ethnic Resource Center, located next to the Bay Tree Bookstore, allows students to intern and participate with various ethnic organizations on campus. Photo by Rosario Serna.
UCSC students work in the quiet, free space at the Lionel Cantú GLBTI Resource Center, located in Merrill College. Photo by Rosario Serna.
UCSC students work in the quiet, free space at the Lionel Cantú GLBTI Resource Center, located in Merrill College. Photo by Rosario Serna.

Reorganization plans for UC Santa Cruz’s six resource centers are on hold. This follows faculty and student criticism last quarter of a plan proposed by Alma Sifuentes, dean of students and associate vice chancellor of student affairs.

Sifuentes proposed reducing the number of program coordinators, lowering classification for the directors, and creating two administrative positions — a lead administrator and assistant — for the resource centers, which include the African-American, American Indian, Asian-American/Pacific Islander (AAPI), Chicano/Latino, GLBTI, and Women’s Centers.

While the lead administrative position was key to the purpose of reorganizing the centers, Sifuentes said in November that she is open to hearing alternative proposals.

“My interest is to serve the students,” Sifuentes said. “… We have budgetary constraint problems. I am open to whatever people want to do here.”

The initial reorganization timeline set a goal of Dec. 1, 2009 for all plans to be finalized so that Vice Chancellor Felicia McGinty could present the proposal to Executive Vice Chancellor David Kliger. Kliger will make the final decision. However, after a proposal was not agreed upon, the process slowed down.

Deb Abbott, director of the Lionel Cantú GLBTI Resource Center, argues that the initial timeline for feedback was too hasty for a decision that will have a major impact on the centers.

“The resource centers are funded by student referendum funds,” Abbott said. “It is important for the process to be slowed down so that a wide range of students can have input into the reorganization scenarios being considered.”

Sifuentes formed the proposal to create administrative efficiencies in anticipation of a budget shortfall. By redirecting administrative tasks, Sifuentes said staff would be more accessible to students, which is a priority the Division of Student Affairs has set in all reorganization plans.

“What I suggested to the resource center directors was a higher-level lead,” Sifuentes said. “Why not move all of the administrative stuff into this one position? That way [the directors] don’t have to worry about [administrative tasks].”

Budget reductions outlined during reorganization consultation with students showed a potential drop of $149,719 from the resource centers’ collective budget, projecting the remaining funds at $590,017.

According to the budget, reductions come with the anticipation of increased costs for campus services, employer retirement contributions, possible cuts of 10 percent resulting from the employee furlough program, and an additional 10-percent cut in July.

“We are building accountability right now,” Sifuentes said. “So everyone should be looking at their programs and services and looking for efficiencies, and wherever possible reorganize to be able to maintain office hours and direct services to students.”

Sifuentes pointed out that the same benefits are paid for full and part-time employees. Therefore, she suggested UCSC reduce the number of program coordinators from six part-time to four full-time positions. Administrative efficiencies would be created by pooling staff resources and efforts by sharing program coordinators.

Leda Hernandez, the Student Union Assembly (SUA)’s commissioner of diversity, disagrees with the creation of a new lead position for resource centers.

“A budget crisis is not the best time to suggest a new administrator,” she said.

Hernandez joined a workgroup with Nancy Kim, the AAPI Resource Center and Women’s Center director, and Pablo Reguerin, Retention Services’ executive director.

The workgroup is reviewing student consultation from various student groups including: SUA, college governments, African/Black Student Alliance, Asian-Pacific Islander Student Alliance, Filipino Student Association, Student Alliance of North American Indians, Movimiento Estudiantil Chicana/o De Aztlan, Engaging Education and the Network.

“The SUA hasn’t taken an official stance, but some officers have,” Hernandez said. “Students are opposed to a reorganization that creates an administrative position while cutting the existing staff.”

The cumulative $100,000 salaries for the proposed lead administrative position and that of the position’s full-time assistant would come out of the centers’ existing budgets.

They would be supported by salary savings, created by reclassifying the center directors to a lower pay-grade and reducing the number of program coordinators to four full-time coordinators for the six centers.

Currently, each center has its own program coordinator. However, most are working part-time, and the Chicano/Latino Resource Center has a vacancy in the position.

“Administrative efficiencies don’t build communities,” Hernandez said. “We are the only UC that does not have an ethnic studies department — the community that would develop there is coming from the resource centers and student organizations instead.”

The Committee on Affirmative Action and Diversity (CAAD) under the Academic Senate took notice of the proposed reorganization in a letter submitted to Sifuentes and Reguerin.

Bettina Aptheker, chair of CADD and feminist studies professor, wrote on Dec. 4, “We think it is a waste of valuable resources to appoint an(other) executive director to oversee all of the resource centers. … This is precisely the reintroduction of a management position that many have suggested is redundant and unnecessary, and adds yet another layer of bureaucratic management at a considerable cost.”

The letter goes on to suggest that upgrading all of the program coordinators to full-time employment, and allowing the directors to retain classifications and pay grades, would improve staff retention.

While the proposal would not have meant pay cuts for the current center directors, a reclassification would mean that newly hired directors would have a lower salary, which could make recruitment difficult.

“The reorganization is still on the table, it’s just not being discussed right now,” Hernandez said. “Our feedback will be taken under advisement, but in the end, it’s up to Alma [Sifuentes], Felicia [McGinty] and Kliger. … I don’t think enough research and planning has gone into this proposal. Student Affairs is always making these drastic changes, and we don’t really know how they are going to impact students in the long run.”

While the proposal has been put on hold, discussion on how to move forward is expected to pick back up in the next few weeks, as the workgroup continues to meet with Sifuentes and as Hernandez brings the debate back to the SUA.